Morning Report: Chula Vista's Awkward 'Forum'

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Morning Report: Chula Vista's Awkward 'Forum'

The Chula Vista Police Department. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Things got pretty awkward pretty quickly at an event billed as a community forum for residents with questions about the Chula Vista Police Department’s license plate reader program.

That’s because when the first question was asked, it was met with total silence.

Then a city official explained that the city and police leaders who’d convened the forum wouldn’t actually be responding. 

“My understanding is that we will accept all of the input, take that into consideration,” the city clerk said. “If there are any questions that need to be answered, we’ll ask you to reach out to the police department staff, they’ll be happy to answer your questions.”

In a new story, VOSD contributor Gustavo Solis recounts the awkward event, and residents’ reactions to how the department has handled criticism over the program. He also notes that a staff report calls into question the timeline of when, exactly, city and police officials were made aware that the department was sharing license plate reader data with federal immigration authorities: “The presentation did not, however, address serious questions about why the mayor and City Council did not learn about the data-sharing until December 2020 even though individuals in the police department and city attorney’s office knew as early as April 2020, according to a March 23 staff report,” Solis reports.

Convention Center Wants a Profit From Migrant Shelter

The Convention Center wants to net some revenue from its contract with the federal government to house migrant youth seeking asylum.

Lisa Halverstadt writes that the Convention Center Corp. plans to use any cash it collects via a contract with the federal Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to refill a reserve account that has dwindled in the wake of pandemic-tied event cancelations.  

She also reveals the corporation discounted rent for the city-led homeless shelter operation that ended last month but offered its standard rates when federal officials inquired about housing migrant children in another shelter operation.

Convention Center Corp. CEO Rip Rippetoe defended the corporation’s decision to charge its standard rates to the federal government, saying the corporation wanted to ensure all the Convention Center’s costs are covered for an expansive operation with potentially unpredictable charges and changes.

Those concerns were particularly front of mind following predictions ahead of the migrant shelter operation that the Convention Center’s shrinking reserve account could hit $0 at the end of next year, far below a corporation policy target that suggests the agency should keep at least $3 million in the fund.

In-Person! School! Happened!

Tens of thousands of students returned to school Monday as San Diego Unified, Sweetwater Union High School District and others reopened in some form.

Our photographer Adriana Heldiz captured a few images of the big day.

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Third grade students at Encanto Elementary watch a video during class. San Diego Unified School District reopened classrooms to students whose families have opted to return to in-person instruction. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
san diego school covid
Mayor Todd Gloria speaks to third grade students at Encanto Elementary on San Diego Unified’s first day back to in-person instruction. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In San Diego Unified, many elementary school students were back for four days per week — almost full days. But most high school and middle schools had very limited offerings for two days per week. And socialization has been heavily restricted.

Bill Would Fund Early Warning System Study for Cliff Collapses

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to research out of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography that could establish an early warning system for coastal bluff collapses.

As MacKenzie Elmer lays out in the latest Environment Report, the good news is that the system could be closer to creation than previously thought. The bad news: It’s gonna take cash, and scientists can’t begin studying it until they got a lot more of it.

Scripps scientists believe they “can measure tiny movements within the cliff caused by rain or groundwater that is widely considered to be a main trigger for bluff failures” and have developed a tool to detect those tiny movements. Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath has written a bill that could fund further study. 

“Lawmakers on the state Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee OK’d the funding March 25 and referred it to the state budget committee, but it still has many more hurdles to pass before the funding gets in the hands of scientists,” Elmer reports.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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